Organizations use Terms of Service on their websites to explain their responsibilities for what takes place on the site.


Website Terms of Service can cover a range of information, but usually explain what information is collected (and link to the privacy policies), how users may use information on the site (copyright, licenses), the jurisdiction where the site information is stored (US, international, multiple) and how/who to contact with questions.

Commercial terms of service are known for being long, legalese, and impenetrable to the reader. Nonprofits and foundations need not copy them.

Commercial websites often require a user to agree to the Terms of Service before using the website. Nonprofits and foundations should consider whether they want to raise such a high barrier to interacting with people.


There are several types of tradeoffs. Some involve gathering a lot of technical data that can improve website functionality but that your organization may or may not feel it can use to full effect or that it can protect. Some choices involve ownership decisions about the content on your site – some of which may be protected and some of which may be open.

The choices you make on copyrighted material and on data collection can be mixed and matched in several ways, depending on your organization’s values and capacities. We’ve included in the repository one document that explains common components of a Terms of Service Agreement.

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